For Andhra’s Lady Amitabh, screen image comes in handyApril 7th, 2009 - 11:23 am ICT by IANS
By Mohammed Shafeeq
Medak (Andhra Pradesh), April 7 (IANS) “You know your Ramulamma, don’t you?” asks actress-turned-politician Vijayashanti at every election meeting she addresses in this Lok Sabha constituency.
“Titti teesta (I will ensure your end),” she says to loud cheers, recalling a well-known dialogue from her super hit Telugu film “Osey Ramulamma” while targeting the ruling Congress party. Vijayashanti is the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) candidate from here.
In the 1997 movie, she played a Dalit woman from Telangana fighting exploitation by the landlords. The character of Ramulamma became so popular that it became her second name.
The 45-year-old’s election campaign seems to be an extension of her screen role of a “fighter” and an angry young woman. She is enlivening the campaign with dialogues from her films, theatrical punches in her speeches and off-the- cuff remarks.
“If you are offered money (by rival parties), take it but cast your vote only for TRS,” the actress told a gathering in Mulugu village, about 60 km from Hyderabad.
“Don’t drink before voting. You can drink as much as you can after voting,” said Lady Amitabh, the nickname she earned for her roles in many Telugu films.
After campaigning for statehood for the Telangana region for 11 years, Vijayashanti is making her debut in electoral politics from Medak, which was represented by prime minister Indira Gandhi when she was gunned down in 1984.
“I have everything, money and popularity, but I have come here for you and for achieving a separate Telangana state. This Shanti has come to give you ‘mana shanti’ (peace of mind),” she says.
The actress is highlighting the “injustice” done to the region since its merger with Andhra Pradesh in 1956. She lashes out at the Congress party for “cheating” the Telangana people.
Vijayashanti, whose film career spans over three decades, had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1997. But her political career was not successful although she was the national general secretary of the party’s women wing.
She quit the BJP in 2005 to float the Talli Telangana, to fight for a separate Telangana state. In January this year, she merged her party with the TRS.
Her nomination from here was not entirely smooth. TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao wanted to contest from Medak, his home district. But Vijayashanti refused to enter the fray from Mahabubnagar, which is not considered a safe seat for the TRS and forced Rao to contest from there.
A. Narendra is the outgoing MP from Medak but the TRS has expelled him.
Vijayashanti appears to be sitting pretty with the TRS fighting the elections in alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the two main Left parties this time. Medak has over 1.3 million voters.
The Congress has fielded C. Narendernath, a businessman who is fighting his first election. Praja Rajyam of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi has no presence in Medak.
With the change in the composition of Medak after the re-organisation of constituencies, it now has the TRS strongholds of Siddipet, Sangareddy and Dubbak assembly segments. Even in the remaining segments, the actress is hoping her glamour quotient and the TDP’s backing will help her pass muster.
“I have support from local leaders, workers of all the parties in Mahakutami (grand alliance). Definitely, I am going to win,” Vijayashanti told IANS.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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